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The Viola Family Is Native To Numerous Continents
by Jennifer Moore
by Jennifer Moore


Jennifer Moore is the owner and operator of Moore Landscaping based in Elora, Ontario. Jennifer is a talented writer and landscape designer providing unique landscaping services.

Her website can be reached here...

October 31, 1999

The large viola family is one of perennials and annuals commonly called Violets and Pansies. These plants are native to South America, Australia, New Zealand, South and Eastern Africa and mild northern regions. They are seen growing wild in woodland areas, but they can thrive in gardens when provided with moist, fertile soil. They are all easy to grow and are the most versatile of the common bedding flowers.

Violets form bushy mounds, are 6 to 12 inches high and have purple, yellow or white blossoms and heart-shaped leaves. They are sweetly scented and are interesting because they produce two types of flowers.

The first type are highly visible, sterile and sweet smelling, whereas the second type of flowers are inconspicuous, grow close to the ground and have no petals. Yet, the second type are fertile and produce the seeds.

There violets are also interesting because they multiply in numbers by underground runners as well as seeds. They are perennial, therefore come back every year and increase in their numbers, thus sometimes becoming a nuisance. They are very easy to control by simply pulling them out where they are not wanted.

Violets are edible; flower blossoms can be added to drinks and salads. They are decorative, but do not have a particular flavour when added as a garnish. They were once believed to have medicinal properties.

The true bedding viola are hybrids between pansies and viola cornuta, have a wide range of colours in white, yellow, purple, rose and several bi-colours, and are 4 to 6 inches tall. They prefer a cool and moist growing condition, therefore displaying their best during the spring and fall. These types are tender perennials, sometimes staying for only two to three years, are more controlled, not spreading like violets do.

Pansies, relatives of violets, are sometimes called bedding viola, but in fact, have larger flowers, almost 4 inches across and are distinctly marked with a center blotch or "face". They come in a wide range of colours, stand 6 to 8 inches high and bloom for a long period of time. They too, thrive in cool, moist growing conditions, but one variety Imperial Blue, will withstand the heat of summer.

Pansies are treated as annuals, but if given a mild enough winter, they are sometimes able to pull through. Most likely, they have produced seedlings instead of over-wintering.

All require moist, rich soil that drains well and is not water-logged. They can tolerate full sun, yet they prefer dappled to full shade and are very popular as container plants. They require little care, perhaps a mild dose of fertilizer now and again, and occasional flower dead-heading to ensure more flowers are produced, rather than seeds.

Violets should not be given artificial fertilizers, instead use well-rotted manure or compost.

Most varieties are seen blossoming in late-spring and early fall with an abundance of flowers and range in a variety of many colours.

They can be propagated by seeds, needing 12 to 14 weeks to produce a seedling large enough to set out in the flowerbed or container. They can be found in stores and nurseries, and can be planted now, as frost does not seem to hurt them.

There are many award-winning varieties available and the colour combinations are endless. I find the most dramatic of all, is the almost black Zorro hybrid pansy. For a big, bold look, pair together pansies of orange and blue.

All plants should be grouped in odd numbers and pockets of the same colour, placed here and there are a bright, welcoming sight. They can be mixed with other plants, are ideal in most locations, are lush looking and provide colour throughout most of the growing season.

Jennifer Moore


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